Cases tossed out against Benjamin Zuckerman, Berger Singerman, Chantel L. Grant, GM Law Firm, Gregory Fishman, Julie Queler, Kevin Mason, National Legal Staffing Support.
The cases involving the student loan assistance companies above were dismissed by the Court ending a previous flurry of suits attempting to recover money for consumers.
The reason why it appears the cases were dismissed is a cautionary tale for consumers. It again reinforces that consumers should never rely on what the salesperson is saying and only what the client contract they sign says.
Interestingly, the recent California Debt Settlement law may impact companies selling similar services in the future.
For now, Judge Singhal found that what the consumers thought they were being sold was not what they actually agreed to in the client agreement.
The Judge said, “Furthermore, Plaintiffs’ claim for fraud also fails as a matter of law. Plaintiffs contend they were induced into the alleged “telemarketing scam” by false promises of guaranteed results from the legal services they were retaining from the law firm; however, Plaintiffs’ own allegations and Exhibits refute this contention. See (Compl. (DE [1-3], Ex. 3 at 4) (“Client understands the possible risks and benefits of the limited-service representation described in this Agreement. Understanding those possible risks and benefits, Client voluntarily, knowingly, and intentionally enters into this Agreement with Attorney.”). First, as asserted by Plaintiffs, this alleged promise was conditioned on completing the Program and paying half of the student loan balance. See id. at 3. Admittedly, neither of these two conditions was satisfied. (Compl. (DE ), ¶ 61). Second, the Legal Services Agreement (DE [1-3]), signed by Plaintiff White, explicitly states that she acknowledged that the legal services were limited to validating, disputing, litigating and/or arbitrating all the consumer’s accounts and provided no guarantees or promises as to the success of the legal services and/or alleged program.”
The Order of Dismissal says, “Plaintiffs allege Defendants breached their duty to them as clients by not eliminating Plaintiffs’ student loan debt as promised and by charging them illegal and unreasonable monthly fees for the Program, which resulted in actual, but unspecified, damages to Plaintiffs, loss of money, consequential and hedonic damages, and damage to their credit scores. While Defendants concede they were hired by Plaintiffs, Defendants argue they were hired for a specific purpose, which was memorialized in writing. See (Compl. (DE [1-3]), Ex. 3). Defendants argue this claim must be dismissed because Plaintiffs’ Complaint (DE ) does not identify any duty owed to Plaintiffs that was breached and Plaintiffs expressly acknowledge that their credit scores could be damaged. Defendants claim Plaintiffs are suing for, and accusing them of, not doing something that Defendants never promised. This Court agrees.”
Judge is Not a Fan of Julie Queler
This footnote in the Order of Dismissal caught my attention. “The Court would be remiss if it failed to address Defendant Julie Queler’s repeated filings of Motions labeled “expedited.” First, none of the four such Motions so labeled (see DE , , , ) are in any way emergencies or worthy of expedited treatment. Second, the Motions seek on an expedited basis, a ruling on Motions to Dismiss while at the same time advocating for a stay of proceedings so there is no ruling on the very same Motions. Compare (DE ) with (DE ) and then again (DE ) with (DE ). Arguments like that are devoid of logic and common sense and diminish the effectiveness of any good arguments contained within. Without a doubt, this Court expects Plaintiffs to file an Amended Complaint. And without a doubt, this Court anticipates a future expedited or emergency motion from Defendant Queler. The difficulty may arise if on that day, the motion truly is an emergency, for how will the Court know? So, before we all get there, the Court suggests a reading of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Aesop’s Fables, Perry Index #210, as well as a thorough reading of this District’s Local Rules.”
Judge Seems to Say Case is Coming Back
This one statement by the Judge seems to indicate there is an expectation some case will be refiled against the Defendants. The Judge said, “Without a doubt, this Court expects Plaintiffs to file an Amended Complaint.” Judge Singhal says the Plaintiff’s can “move to amend the complaint by October 26, 2021” and “also address the merits of Defendants’ motions as to the individual claims to narrow the issues that may be raised in an amended complaint.”